By Charlotte Smith
A hearing was held today in Raleigh by the North Carolina State Board of Elections in regards to “numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities related to absentee by mail ballots and potentially other matters.” After the meeting today it was announced by officials, Bladen County absentee votes are under investigation and may prevent some elected Bladen County officials from being sworn in on Monday, December 3rd, 2018.
Current Representative for District 9, Robert Pittenger, and Dwight Sheppard, a Bladen County resident, were quoted on other news outlets in reference to concerns over voter fraud in Bladen County. WECT and the Charlotte Observer both detail concerns from Sheppard.
Sheppard reported concerns with the rise in absentee ballots. Accusations of a criminal felony history and allegations of voter fraud are pointed at McRae Dowless by Sheppard.
In the 2016 elections, McRae Dowless was elected as the Bladen County Soil & Water Conservation Supervisor. After elected, Dowless filed a protest for the 2016 election accusing a Bladen County Political Action Committee of voter fraud.
There was another protest filed in 2016 by Kenneth Register, a Democratic candidate for Bladen County Board of Commissioners. He allegedly witnessed several “software glitches” and saw a memory stick being changed out at a polling location during the Early Voting process. Register’s protest was denied on appeal by the N.C. State Board of Elections, and Dowless’ protest was dismissed due to lack of evidence.
In the 2018 election season there have been several reports to BladenOnline.com from voters stating Dowless was working for Republican Rev. Mark Harris, candidate for U.S. Congress and Republican Sheriff Jim McVicker during the 2018 elections. According to Bladen County witnesses during the election period, women were going out to collect absentee votes at homes and businesses throughout Bladen County.
When BladenOnline.com staff members questioned two of the female workers they claimed they were working for Harris and McVicker through McRae Dowless’ Political Action Committee as volunteers.
Rep. Robert Pittenger who lost to Rev. Harris during the 2018 primary claims there are some unsavory people in Bladen County. He added he had nothing to do with the absentee ballot voting.
The US House District 9 includes part or all of Bladen, Cumberland, Robeson, Scotland, Rockingham, Richmond, Anson, Union and Mecklenburg counties.
According to unofficial results published on the NC State Board of Elections, in the US House District 9 race Republican Mark Harris received 139,246 votes, Democrat Dan McCready received 138,341, and Libertarian Jeff Scott received 5,130 votes.
In Bladen County, Harris received 5,413 votes, McCready received 3,856 votes and Scott received 129 votes.
The investigation may effect the swearing in ceremonies of local elected officials. There is a swearing in ceremony planned for Monday, December 3, 2018 at 2 p.m. for the swearing in of newly elected officials.
New members of Congress are expected to be sworn in during the month of January. BladenOnline.com will report more information as soon as it becomes available.